The state legislature has at least six bills filed this session that would allow for the expungement of court and law enforcement records in some felony cases.
HSPA has opposed such legislation because it doesn’t believe the action solves the problem legislators are trying to address, said Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel.
“Many legislators are concerned with the ability for individuals who have felony convictions to gain employment after they have served their sentence,” Key said. “If unable to find a job, they may revert to the behavior that put them into the criminal court system the first time.”
The inclusion of that felony conviction on a job application may eliminate an individual from any consideration for a job with many employers concerned with the individual’s value system or the possibility of liability from a lawsuit if the individual breaks the law while an employee.
Expungement seals court and law enforcement records as if the arrest and conviction never happened. The legislation encourages individuals with expunged records to answer job application questions concerning arrests or convictions as if they didn’t occur.
HSPA opposes this policy because it doesn’t work and it attempts to rewrite the historical record contained in public records.
“A 10-minute Google search will find 30 background check entities,” Key said. “These entities either create their own databases or tap into databases that collect arrest and court records on a daily basis.”
Even if Indiana seals some arrest and court records, the information already captured by the databases will not be erased, he said.
“Instead of helping that individual get a job, it will hurt his chances,” Key said. “The applicant says he has no conviction, knowing his court records have been expunged, but the company uses a private background-check firm, which reports the conviction. The employer assumes the individual lied on his application and immediately rejects it.”
The bill numbers and authors of the expungement bills include:
- H.B. 1211 – Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion
- H.B. 1289 – Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus
- S.B. 392 – Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis
- S.B. 393 – Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis
- S.B. 407 – Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary
- S.B. 142 – Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D- East Chicago.
Key said there may be additional bills on this subject that he hasn’t uncovered yet.